Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A Good Week for Fiber Art

It's been a good week for fiber art: field trips, classes, gallery visits, and more.

It started the other day when I took myself to Creative Fibers in Windsor, CT for help with a sock I'm making.  I'm taking a class in making socks.  Socks are practical, and besides, if  I want to have a knitting project or two going at all times, I might as well be making something useful.
Yarn stores give me the same kind of rush that hardware stores give some of the guys.  I mean, look at this carnival of textures and colors:

Here's what my sock looked like that day:

That yarn is very fine--like hair--and the needles are like toothpicks.  I guess it has to be that way with socks.  The bulkier you get with a sock, the harder it is to fit into your shoes, and the more likely the possibility of rubbing and blisters.  Thus:  fine yarn and fine needles.

Once I received my help from Julie of Creative Fibers (thanks, Julie!) my next stop was Thomaston, Connecticut, about 45 minutes to the south and west, where felting teacher Robin McCahill was available to give me some advice on a felted piece I'm working on.  Robin teaches at (among other places) the Phoenix Rising Center of Thomaston, which is housed in this vintage factory building where Seth Thomas clocks and watches were once made:

The former Seth Thomas clock factory.  Do you notice that snow is a recurring theme these days?
The Phoenix Rising Center, where Robin met me, bills itself as a resource to see, study, and experience the arts.  Here's a link to their site:


The day I was there, the center was host to a fiber art show,

Flight of Fancy - our new exhibit in the Seth Thomas Gallery
celebrating amazing local artisans who specialize in wearable art - a fine and expressive art, where you are your canvas!
Opening Reception scheduled for Friday February 8th from 6-8pm rescheduled to February 15th 6-8pm

I lent a couple of my jackets to that show, so I was glad that my trip to see Robin there featured a chance to see the display.  Look at these wild and crazy items:

This was my favorite, a free-form crocheted sweater created by Robin Mc Cahill

Or how about this impressive crazy patch vest by Judith Davis of Eclectic Oddities?
Or how about this piece by I-don't-remember?

My own two pieces in the show:

I was glad to have a chance to visit the Center and meet its founder, Doreen Breen, who, the day I was there, was very excited about a teacher named Joseph FireCrow, who teaches students at the Center to make their own flutes from wood.  Here's Doreen:

And here's Joseph Fire Crow, whom I've never met:

He shoulda put that outfit in the wearable art show!

I drove to Thomaston because I needed Robin's advice about a felted piece I was working on, which I call Shall We?  I created it for a juried show called Dare to Dance, which juror Mary Kerr describes as an artist's interpretation of joy.  Here's a link to information about that juried exhibition:  http://www.marywkerr.com/dare.html

To me, there's no purer expression of joy than that of animals at play, who have no self-consciousness or ulterior motives, and who are not prisoners of the tyranny of cool.

This one is the invitation to dance
And this one's the dance.
Robin helped me create three-dimensional felted ears for the dogs, came up with a better type of bead for their eyes, and gave me some ribbon to use as collars.  She also suggested that I eliminate the gap between the two images.  The two of them were mounted on Osnaburg, a coarsely-woven cotton which, because the two pieces were sewn onto it, formed a 2 inch border between and around them.  But the border made the two look isolated and choppy, in Robin's view, so she suggested that I fill the gaps by covering them with needle-felted wool roving.  I did what she suggested, and the result was this:

 After receiving Robin's help, and going to lunch at Pizza Pal across the street with her and Doreen, I next set out for East Windsor, Connecticut, where artist Nancy Masters was going to show her felting machines to me and my quilt art buddy Carol Vinick. 

It wasn't to be.  The highways were backed up because the ubiquitous snow removal crews were occupying travel lanes and forcing drivers into bottlenecks.  I-84 looked like a parking lot both eastbound and westbound.  So Carol and I had to reschedule our visit to Nancy.  But meanwhile, here's a link to Nancy's site:  http://www.nancymasters.net/

All that happened on one day, Tuesday, February 12, 2013.

Later in the week, on Saturday, February 16, one of my art quilt groups, the Connecticut Fiber Arts Collective, sponsored a felting class, taught by Robin McCahill and held at the Unitarian Society of Hartford, which is my religious congregation.

There, Robin introduced half a dozen new felters to the mysteries of wool roving.  Look at these balls of merino wool.  There can be worse ways of spending a snowy Saturday than working with this soft, colorful fiber:

Here, Robin explains how, in the process called nuno felting, a piece of silk chiffon serves as a base for wisps of wool roving, which are manipulated with soap, water, and elbow grease until the tiny barbs on the wool hook into each other and into the silk chiffon.

Rolling, rolling, rolling

Here's Toni Torres creating flowers:

After the rolling, there's hand manipulation.

Lots of work, but look at what you can create in just a few hours!

Nancy Mandly

Helen Michaels

Mary Lachman
That was Saturday.  I'm writing this on Tuesday, February 19.  Look how far my sock has progressed since then!

1 comment:

  1. Love the post Diane! So many creative ideas and only 24 hours in a day... the dancing dogs is awesome and how fun to see the sock growing!